Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Using a Cloud Service at the Office Without Permission? You’re Not Alone.

I don’t usually like to look too deeply into surveys of customers by one company or another, usually because they tend to arrive at a self-serving point. But every now and then there are interesting nuggets in them that illustrate something interesting, or confirm something widely suspected but not often quantified.

Today’s case in point is a new survey by the Texas-based cloud-computing outfit Rackspace. This is the company that is the subject of constant and recurring speculation that it’s about to be acquired, with similarly constant and recurring insistence by its senior executives that it doesn’t want to be acquired.

Anyway, Rackspace conducted a survey of 500 IT decision makers who happen to work for companies that use cloud-computing services. (Again, I ask, rhetorically, given all the surveys they seem to be responding to from vendors, trade publications and so on, when do “IT decision makers” ever get the time do their jobs?) Among the findings are the usual bits that naturally lead one to reach positive conclusions on the part of the company that commissioned the survey: Nine out of 10 IT decision makers like cloud computing, and they prefer vendors with strong customer service but higher prices by a ratio of 3 to 1. No shockers there.

But here’s the bit that caught my eye. If you’ve paid any attention to the evolution of cloud computing in the enterprise over the last two years, you probably know that employees of various levels — programmers especially — can sometimes be sneaky about how they use it. Services like Rackspace, Amazon Web Services and many others are so easy to start using that it’s common for employees to open an account and start using them without getting proper authorization from the boss.

Rackspace found that nearly half of those in the survey — 43 percent, to be exact — said they were aware of these “rogue IT” situations, where employees take it upon themselves to spin up a cloud service without first getting the boss’s permission or setting up an account through the usual corporate processes.

Often it’s a matter of solving a problem quickly. Corporations have a way of making decisions slowly, and cloud services can be spun up in a matter of minutes with nothing more than a credit card: Indeed, 38 percent of those surveyed said the main reason for “going rogue” is to save time. One in three said what was needed wasn’t available internally or that they wanted to avoid dealing with the IT department altogether. Hard to argue with that.

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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”